Madhya Pradesh cabinet approves anti-conversion bill draft

MP to become the second state after UP to bring such law.

Credit : NewsBharati

After Uttar Pradesh, the Madhya Pradesh Cabinet, on Saturday, approved the draft of an anti-conversion bill in the state. Under this, those found guilty of 'forcing' someone to convert their religion will have to face imprisonment upto 10 years, and a fine from Rs 25,000 upto Rs 1 lakh. The draft of the said bill was approved in a special meeting chaired by the MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

"We won't allow forced conversions in Madhya Pradesh. Under the new bill, anyone who does it will face jail term up to 10 years and minimum Rs 50,000 fine. Many incidents came to light where minor girls were converted, married and made to contest Panchayat polls," Chouhan said, as reported by the ANI.

The draft has been approved under the Dharma Swatantrya (Religious Freedom) Bill, 2020, ahead of the MP legislative assembly session which is scheduled to begin on December 28th. This new law will replace the existing Madhya Pradesh Dharma Swatantrya Adhiniyam, 1968. Under the new rules, those who wish to change their religion will have to notify two months ahead. If any couple having interfaith marriage fails to notify about the conversion, the marriage will be considered null and void.

Madhya Pradesh has become the second state to bring in anti-conversion law, after Uttar Pradesh, amidst the heated discussions to prevent the so-called ‘love jihad’ cases. Ministers and leaders from other BJP-led states like Haryana and Karnataka have also spoken of bringing in anti-conversion laws against ‘love-jihad’. UP passed the Uttar Pradesh Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020 last month, after which, the UP police have lodged multiple cases under it. Those involved in many of these cases, including the brides and the grooms as well as their families, have stated that police have either registered false cases, or have forced people to lodge FIRs. Recently, in a latest case, a Muslim teenager boy walking home with his Hindu friend (girl) from a birthday party, has been booked under the law. The girl’s father, in the said case, has also denied filing a case against the boy with consent.